USC defensive recruiting overview

As the Trojan coaches hit the road for the all-important May recruiting evaluation period, WeAreSC presents an overview of the top defensive prospects on the USC wish list.

Defensive Line

The defensive end spot might be the top position of need for this class and the Trojans have a verbal so far from the top ranked end in the state with Wes Horton from Notre Dame, a tall and rangy player who is simply a terrific athlete. Wes gets off the ball with quickness and strength, he also has a frame that will add size well. His brother was a two way star at Notre Dame last year who signed with UNLV and his father was a regular on the TV show American Gladiators. There are also several out of state ends that are receiving serious consideration from USC including Kyle Long from Virginia, Everette Thompson from Washington and junior college star Tevita Finau from Arizona. Long is the son of NFL veteran Howie and he grew up in Southern California until age 7 (mom also went to grad school at SC). Kyle has the additional option of playing baseball as he is considered a top prospect who could get chosen in the 2008 draft, the Trojan coaches have told him he can play both sports at USC. Thompson is an athletic guy who can also play tight end but prefers defense and is holding out hope for a Trojan offer. Everette plans to attend the USC camps in June. The latest prospect to claim an offer from USC is Finau, a sleeper from Phoenix College in Arizona. His coach says Tevita, who prepped in Hawaii, currently has offers from the Trojans, Oklahoma and Florida among others.

At defensive tackle, there seems to be an impending Trojan verbal coming as Jurrell Casey has made it clear he could make it official sometime after school is out next month. Casey is one of our favorite players that we saw last season with his energy and playmaking ability on both sides of the ball. When Jurrell makes it official, the Trojans will have added the top end in the state and the top tackle in the state for the Class of 2008. Of course, that doesn't mean the coaches would stop there. We've already listed some of the other options at end and at tackle there are some out of state players on the wish list, particularly Ethan Johnson from Oregon and Marcus Forston from Florida. Johnson is known for his good technique and he is considered the best player in Oregon this year. He took a trip to USC during spring ball practices and came away impressed with what he saw. Forston is the classic "big man in the middle of the line" and he boasts a "Who's Who" of impressive offers while still listing USC among his top 5 (he will officially visit USC in the fall).

Kyle Long (6-7, 290, 4.9) St Anne's-Belfield, VA:: "When they (USC) were first recruiting me, they were talking about me as an offensive tackle," Long said. "Now they are recruiting me as a defensive-end, and I'm definitely fired up about that. "I'd actually rather play d-end, even though most schools are recruiting me as a offensive tackle. Me and Coach McNair speak every once in a while," saidLong. "I let him know how things are going in baseball and everything else, and he seems real cool. I also have talked to Coach Carroll and I can't wait to get out there, and meet him." Florida State is the school to beat right now, but Long will travel to Los Angeles for an official visit in the fall. And could possibly visit this summer since his dad is an L.A. resident.

Marcus Forston (6-2.5, 305, 4.9) Miami Northwestern, FL: "Coach Carroll said that the only reason he can see coming out to Florida to offer is when he finds someone who will be going to the NFL," Forston said. "I was like 'wow', that's really cool that he said that. My coach was really happy too. He told me that there are a lot of kids out there that wish USC would offer them. It's such a prestigious school and the tradition there is unbelievable. They are definitely going to be one of my five official visits. That's about all I know, right now. I like Miami, USC, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Auburn, Tennessee and Clemson."

Ethan Johnson (6-4.5, 265, 4.9) Lincoln High, OR: "All of my dad's family lives in or around Los Angeles," Johnson said. "I really like the warm weather and the beaches. It's a great place to visit and a great place to live." Word is Johnson has USC at the top of his list. He unofficially visited USC and spent a lot of time with a representative of the Marshall School of Business. Johnson told WeAreSC he plans on majoring in business.

Jurrell Casey (6-2, 282, 4.8) Long Beach Poly: "I've liked USC since the sixth grade," Casey said. "They always have a good team. I like the players they produce and they always seem to get the best guys. I like the USC campus too. It's not too big and everything is nice and well taken care of." Casey said USC, Oregon and LSU are his top schools with the Trojans being the favorite at this point.

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Linebacker

The Trojans already have a commit from the top in-state linebacker on the wish list in Maurice Simmons and this month they will focus on some of the top talent across the nation including Arthur Brown from Kansas, Lynn Katoa from Utah, Brendon Beal from New Jersey, Jerrell Harris from Alabama, Etienne Sabino from Florida and Jon Major from Colorado. Simmons is the latest in the long line of football players in his family and he follows oldest brother Melvin (Champ) is playing LB for the Trojans. Maurice showed his abilities last week at the Scout combine including a 4.41 40, there is also another Simmons possibility down the line as youngest brother Marquis is expected to be one of the top linebackers for the Class of 2009. His top school right now? USC. There might not be a better player that we've seen on film this year than Arthur Brown. This guy brings a devastating combination of closing speed and hitting ability that makes it easy to understand why he is ranked as the #1 overall prospect in the country by Scout. The OU Sooners are thought to have an early edge but never underestimate Pete Carroll in a battle for a player he really wants. Katoa is a hard-hitter from the same school as Stanley Havili and he plays with a style similar to Kaluka Maiava. Beal made a trip to the SC campus last month to watch spring ball practices and he liked what he saw enough to list the Trojans among his top choices. Harris seems to be an Alabama lean at this point but he did sound genuinely excited about getting an SC offer. Sabino currently lists North Carolina as his top choice but he will give the Trojans a long look. Major is a guy who has received a lot of national attention but not so much from the USC coaches so far, he is expecting the coaches to visit his school in May so that interest could pick up sometime soon. As far as in-state targets, it will be interesting to see if UCLA "soft" commit Uona Kaveinga decides to attend the Trojan summer camp in June as he says he will. Other potential names to watch include Dewitt Stuckey and Brandon Magee.

Arthur Brown (6-1, 225, 4.5) Wichita East, KS: While he isn't sure if USC will be included within those plans, Brown says trips to Notre Dame, the big three in Florida, and a few of the California schools are very likely. Brown is rumored to be an Oklahoma lean, but he maintains a top seven of Florida, Florida State, Kansas State, Miami (Fl), Michigan, Oklahoma and USC.

Lynn Katoa (6-2, 220, 4.6) Cottonwood, UT: Katoa doesn't plan on attending any summer camps or combines. "I think I've proven myself," Katoa said. However, he does intend on taking a lot of unofficial visits. "I'll try to take as many unofficial visits during the spring and summer as possible. I'll visit USC for sure this spring. Katoa is scheduled to visit Texas before USC, and there's a rumor he'll commit to Texas if the Longhorns offer.

Etienne Sabino (6-3, 228, 4.6) Krop High, FL: "I definitely want to get out to see USC," Sabino said. "They're an NFL factory for one and I'm very interested in USC. Coach (Ken) Norton (linebackers) and Coach T-Mac (running backs) said that there will be a real good opportunity to play there. So, USC is definitely a school that's high on my list of schools I'm looking at." Sabino named North Carolina his top school after an unofficial visit, but he says he open to all schools at this stage of the process.

Brendan Beal (6-3, 236, 4.7) Roxbury, NJ: "I thought being with Cushing was definitely my highlight because he's a linebacker from New Jersey," Beal said after his USC visit. "It's great to see that all he went through and it made me feel more comfortable. Talking with Coach Carroll, what a great guy he is reminded me that Urban Meyer and he are a lot alike. But I think Carroll is a little farther down the line in his career. Their whole system is based on the Pros. We're going to put you where you're best at, it doesn't matter how old you are, or what year you are, we're going to use your ability." Beal had high praise for USC's linebackers coach, Ken Norton Jr. "Coach Norton is the best linebacker coach I met," Beal said. "I've never seen a group of linebackers have more fun at the meetings, practice and just hanging out together." Beal told WeAreSC that USC and Florida are his top schools.

Jerrell Harris (6-3.5, 208, 4.5) Gadsen, AL:

"I'm very interested in USC," said Harris. "I've been keeping up with them over the years. I know they send their players to the first round (of the NFL Draft). They also have a good education to offer. They have one of the best teams in the nation, academically and athletically. Business and pre-med are what I'm looking for educationally." Harris' top schools are Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and USC.

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Defensive Back

This is one of the most down years for DB talent in the state of California that we can remember seeing. So far there hasn't been a single in-state offer to a corner or safety and only a few have been tendered out of state. This means there is a great opportunity for a player to come to the Summer Camp in June and impress the coaches to the point of getting an offer. Of the players we are looking at, don't expect to hear a lot of information coming from Will Hill. He's not giving many interviews during the recruiting process but early quotes do indicate that the Trojans will be in his final mix. He's described as a very explosive player with great anticipation skills. Robby Green comes from the same school as Joe McKnight and Robby will attend the SC camp and then spend some time with Joe on campus. Green is known for his tremendous cover skills. T.J. Bryant must be something special because when Scout recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg says Bryant might be the top player to ever come out of Lincoln HS in Tallahassee, that statement gets our attention. USC will get a look from T.J. but you can be sure the Seminoles are going to be tough to beat on this one.

Will Hill (6-3, 195, 4.5) St. Peters Prep, NJ: USC - "A great program. They will be in the running for a National Championship for the next five years." Hill has said USC is one of the schools he'll officially visit during the season. Hill's top schools are Rutgers, USC, Florida, Ohio State and Michigan.

Robby Green (6-1, 180, 4.5) John Curtis Christian, LA: This summer Green plans to hit the road and visit some of the schools he's interested in. "I'm going out to USC, LSU, and Alabama definitely, and probably Arizona State for camps," Green said. "I'm going to probably take some more unofficial visits too, but I'm not sure where." Green is looking at Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Mississippi and USC.

T.J. Bryant (6-0, 175, 4.45) Lincoln High, FL): "USC has great talent and they also have great wide receivers. That's important to me because I want to be tested in practice. I love that competition and I want to always improve my game. I am open to all schools," Bryant said. "I like LSU, Miami, Florida, FSU, USC, Notre Dame, Georgia, Tennessee, and Auburn."

Brandon Harris (5-10, 175, 4.5) Booker T. Washington, FL: Harris lists SC in his top seven, but it's Miami and Florida at the top at this point.


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